Medi funds go on cars, travel

ABO­RIG­I­NAL HEALTH SER­VICE ‘DI­VERTS $1M-PLUS TO DI­REC­TOR, FAM­ILY MEM­BERS’

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - SEAN PAR­NELL HEALTH ED­I­TOR

‘I’d just urge the com­mon­wealth to just re­ally try and get this sorted be­cause it seems to be drag­ging on’ JU­DITH DA­LEY MAG­IS­TRATE

An Abo­rig­i­nal med­i­cal ser­vice ac­cused of se­ri­ous Medi­care fraud later di­verted more than $1 mil­lion in govern­ment rev­enue to a di­rec­tor and her fam­ily mem­bers for loans, cars, com­put­ers, jewellery and other ex­penses un­re­lated to the busi­ness, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments filed in the Supreme Court.

The con­tro­versy sur­round­ing Jenni An­der­son and Murri Health, now known as the Ca­bool­ture Com­mu­nity Med­i­cal Cen­tre, has con­tin­ued long af­ter the al­leged fraud of­fences and raises ques­tions over the level of com­mon­wealth over­sight.

At its prime, the south­east Queens­land ser­vice was feted by politi­cians for photo op­por­tu­ni­ties, and within two years of its 2011 launch was said to have more than 5800 pa­tients on its books.

The Medi­care of­fences al­legedly oc­curred within those first two years, how­ever the claims of fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment con­tin­ued even af­ter crim­i­nal charges were laid ear­lier this year.

The $1.04m was said to have been di­verted be­tween April 2016 and Au­gust 2018. Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments filed in court, Ms An­der­son and fam­ily mem­bers al­legedly con­tin­ued to re­ceive funds from CCMC that they were not en­ti­tled to even af­ter she moved to NSW to run the Biripi Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion Med­i­cal Cen­tre.

Biripi now faces be­ing placed into ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­spite turn­ing a profit in 2016-17 when it kept ex­pen­di­ture be­low its $13 mil­lion in rev­enue.

Ms An­der­son’s al­leged mis­man­age­ment at Murri Health and CCMC is the sub­ject of a Supreme Court civil ac­tion launched by fel­low di­rec­tor Anita Kemp, while her role at Biripi is be­ing scru­ti­nised by the Of­fice of the Reg­is­trar of In­dige­nous Cor­po­ra­tions. ORIC had been pe­ti­tioned by 131 com­mu­nity mem­bers over Biripi’s “rapidly de­clin­ing cash re­serves” and gave the cor­po­ra­tion un­til yes­ter­day to re­spond to a show­cause no­tice.

Ms An­der­son has not been ac­cused of any crim­i­nal of­fence.

The only per­son charged over the al­leged Murri Health fraud, Bris­bane man Jimmy Chet He­t­er­ick, 47, stands ac­cused of two counts of de­cep­tion and dis­hon­estly ob­tain­ing a fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage for a com­pany called Red­bob.

Red­bob is owned by trusts as­so­ci­ated with Ms An­der­son and Ms Kemp and em­ployed health prac­ti­tion­ers for Murri Health. Ms An­der­son had sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers em­ployed and Mr He­t­er­ick was re­ferred to as her brother and, at one point, the staff mem­ber who han­dled Medi­care billing.

Mr He­t­er­ick’s case was men­tioned in the Bris­bane Mag­is­trates Court yes­ter­day but he was not re­quired to ap­pear. The court heard parts of the 15-vol­ume brief of ev­i­dence had been mis­placed and the orig­i­nal Medi­care in­ves­ti­ga­tors had left govern­ment, mak­ing prepa­ra­tions dif­fi­cult.

“I’d just urge the com­mon­wealth to just re­ally try and get this sorted be­cause it seems to be drag­ging on a lot,” mag­is­trate Ju­dith Da­ley told the court.

Ms Kemp, mean­while, has asked the Supreme Court to order Ms An­der­son to make amends for the al­leged mis­man­age­ment at Murri Health and CCMC by sell­ing what re­mains of the busi­ness to her at a fair price.

In doc­u­ments filed with the court, Ms Kemp’s lawyers de­tail $1.04 mil­lion in non-CCMCre­lated ex­penses that need to be ac­counted for. They in­clude $697,681.33 in loans to Ms An­der­son, $116,119.17 in loans to an An­der­son fam­ily mem­ber, $82,497.88 in ex­penses for ve­hi­cles not owned by CCMC, $24,742.54 in An­der­son fam­ily travel, $17,635 for com­put­ers, $4194.70 in le­gal fees for an An­der­son fam­ily mem­ber in re­la­tion to a crim­i­nal mat­ter, $2235.74 in traf­fic fines, $2222.19 in build­ing equip­ment, $1058.87 for meat and $635.45 for jewellery.

The De­part­ment of Health has re­jected free­dom-of-in­for­ma­tion re­quests for de­tails of all Medi­care billing through Murri Health and CCMC.

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